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Savory Stuffed Pumpkin

November 8, 2010

SoupAddict has been cooking her way through her latest cookbook obession, Around My French Table (by author Dorie Greenspan). She’s made a dozen or so recipes; they’ve all been delightful, and definite do-agains. And then this one came along.

Oh. My. Guh’ness. This is SoupAddict’s favorite of favorites.

(Full recipe is included — Dorie herself unleashed it on epicurious.com, so SoupAddict figures it’s fair game.)

This recipe takes simple, savory flavors, and packages it in an absolutely darling presentation. Is this going on SoupAddict’s Thanksgiving table? That would be, yes.

Start with a pumpkin. Not too big, not too small (3-4 pounds). You can use either a field pumpkin or a pie pumpkin (with jack-o’-lantern carving season over, pie pumpkins will be easier to find). Or any kind of edible round squash. If you wanted to get real fancy-schmancy with your guests, you could make individual servings, using small acorn or largish sweet dumpling squashes.
Take bread, cut it into cubes, toast it. A French or Italian boule is delightful here. (Wonder Bread, not so much.) SoupAddict’s bread happened to not be stale, but stale bread is totally cool. (Mouldy might be pushing it.)
Then take your favorite cheese and cube it, too. Cabot’s medium cheddar is on the left, Gruyere on the right. This time of year, SoupAddict’s very favorite aged Gouda hits the local cheese markets: Reypenaer. This Gouda is so good, it makes her well-up.

Which is kind of embarrassing at the grocery store. (SoupAddict would like to think she looks all tender and vulnerable when she gets teary-eyed, like Uma Thurman, but that’s just not the case. Plus, Uma Thurman probably doesn’t do such things at the grocery store. The woman killed Bill; she doesn’t cry over cheese.)

The next time SoupAddict makes this dish, it will have Reypenaer in it. And she’ll have a box of Kleenex handy.

SoupAddict happens to live near a fantastic local sausage making company, and scored this sweet Italian fennel concoction earlier this Fall. The thing about buying locally from small producers is that it’s not just hype or a fad: you can tell when folks love what they do — it shows in the food.
Speaking of loving what you do … SoupAddict contributed her own homegrown fresh thyme and purple rocambole garlic to this recipe.
The pumpkin stuffing mixed and ready to stuff.
Mmmm, sticky, slimy, stringy pumpkin guts. Makes a girl hungry.
And as if the cheese and sausage and garlic weren’t good enough, there’s cream. You can be a party-pooper and use half-n-half. But SoupAddict does not want to hear anything about skim milk with this recipe. Might as well top it off with water.

No skim milk.

Okay?

Awwww. SoupAddict just wants to pinch this punkin’s adorable little cheeks. But, despite a lot of looking, she couldn’t find cheeks, so she just patted it on the stem. Niiiice, punkin’.
After cooking is finished, use a spoon to carefully scrape the walls of the pumpkin to remove the roasted flesh, stirring it directly into the other melty, cheesy stuffing ingredients.

Oh. My. G’uhness

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good (Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table)

1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 pound cheese, such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2–4 garlic cloves (to taste), split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped
8 oz. sweet Italian sausage, cooked and drained
About 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
About 1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

(Note: this is Dorie’s narrative below, with my comments sprinkled in. The original recipe calls for bacon instead of sausage.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that’s just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you’ll have to serve it from the pot—which is an appealingly homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a baking sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn’t so easy. However, since I love the way the unencumbered pumpkin looks in the center of the table, I’ve always taken my chances with the baked-on-a-sheet method, and so far, I’ve been lucky. (Note: SoupAddict did the bowl method, which worked out really, really well, as the bowl was a perfect fit and was completely portable.)

Using a very sturdy knife—and caution—cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween Jack-o-Lantern). It’s easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot.

Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, sausage, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper—you probably have enough salt from the sausage and cheese, but taste to be sure—and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled—you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little—you don’t want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened. (It’s hard to go wrong here.)

Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours—check after 90 minutes—or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.

When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully—it’s heavy, hot, and wobbly—bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you’ll bring to the table.

Serving

You have a choice—you can either spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful, or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling, and then mix everything up. I’m a fan of the pull-and-mix option. Served in hearty portions followed by a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course; served in generous spoonfuls, it’s just right alongside the Thanksgiving turkey.

Storing

It’s really best to eat this as soon as it’s ready. However, if you’ve got leftovers, you can scoop them out of the pumpkin, mix them up, cover, and chill them; reheat them the next day.

Bonne Idée

There are many ways to vary this arts-and-crafts project. Instead of bread, I’ve filled the pumpkin with cooked rice—when it’s baked, it’s almost risotto-like. And, with either bread or rice, on different occasions I’ve added cooked spinach, kale, chard, or peas (the peas came straight from the freezer). I’ve made it without bacon (a wonderful vegetarian dish), and I’ve also made it and loved, loved, loved it with cooked sausage meat; cubes of ham are also a good idea. Nuts are a great addition, as are chunks of apple or pear or pieces of chestnut.

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45 Comments
  1. Susan permalink
    November 8, 2010 1:17 pm

    You made my Monday!

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 9, 2010 9:03 pm

      Aw, shucks. 😉

  2. November 8, 2010 3:05 pm

    Nice job on cutting the top off – I must get over my fear of puncturing myself while carving pumpkins. Apparently, I am missing out on more than jack-o-lanterns…

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 9, 2010 9:04 pm

      Heh heh. You don’t have do the zig zag … after I started, I thought, what am I doing, this is going to take forever. But, sometimes you just have to go with mojo.

  3. November 8, 2010 3:12 pm

    That sounds really good! Never would have thought of cooking a whole pumpkin! 🙂

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 9, 2010 9:04 pm

      Frankly, me neither. That’s why Dorie is Dorie – she’s brilliant!

  4. November 8, 2010 3:59 pm

    Come to Mama…..

    That looks sooooo good. I guess I’ll just have to order that cookbook and add it to my collection. It can be cookbook number 6,746….

    sigh…..

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 9, 2010 9:07 pm

      I’m seriously gearing myself up for a major book clean-out. In addition to decades-old books I’ll never read again, I have cookbooks that I’ll never cook from again (or even want to look at). For what it’s worth, I really do love this cookbook. It hasn’t let me down yet.

  5. November 8, 2010 6:41 pm

    I should have my book tomorrow. Can’t wait to crack it open and start making some of the recipes therein.

    But the roasted pumpkin looks delicious! And you’re right, they’re out there.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 9, 2010 9:11 pm

      I hope you’ll enjoy the book as much as I have. I’ve made well over a dozen recipes from it, and they’re all just wonderful and delicious. Dorie’s a class-A recipe writer, and she makes everything doable.

  6. Phyllis Ryan permalink
    November 8, 2010 8:14 pm

    I have a secial dinner coming up on thurdsay and this will be the centerpiece.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 9, 2010 9:09 pm

      Oh, fun! Your peeps will love it, and the presentation is just darling and wonderfully seasonal! Let me know how it turns out.

  7. November 10, 2010 6:58 am

    The presentation is amazing and it sounds delicious! I absolutely need to try it!
    And I know exact the feeling about gouda and other aged cheese. I think I can cry and fall on my knees in front of a Fontina or a Roman Pecorino! 🙂 Yum…

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 11, 2010 8:37 am

      Mmmmm, romano pecorino …. mmmmmm.

  8. November 10, 2010 8:24 am

    i’m new to the community, and this is one of the first blogs/posts that i have read, and i have to say, i am hooked! this recipe looks so delish and i can’t wait to check out your other recipes. also, it reminds me of a chicken and pumpkin pot pie that i make and am planning to post on my blog today, so check me out at brandybelle.wordpress.com.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 11, 2010 8:50 am

      Welcome to the blogosphere!

  9. November 10, 2010 8:26 am

    Love your writing, your style of cooking and this post! Nailed, SoupAddict!

  10. November 10, 2010 9:48 am

    I’m loving all of the pumpkin recipes. Yours looks amazing! Thank you for sharing and featuring!

  11. November 10, 2010 10:01 am

    Okay… this just looked too awesome! I had to make it (with my own spin of course). It’s in the oven right now…. I can’t wait to try it. ;P

  12. November 10, 2010 10:25 am

    All I want today is for this to be in my stomach.

  13. janemaynard permalink
    November 10, 2010 11:23 am

    hi there! I couldn’t resist, I had to feature this post on FoodPress.com today – what a perfect fall recipe and lovely photos! thanks for doing such great work! jane

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 11, 2010 8:48 am

      Thank you, Jane, I’m absolutely thrilled! [Squeal!]

  14. November 10, 2010 12:31 pm

    Okay…. so this wonderful soup is even better than it looks. I did make it a bit more (almost vegan). Absolutely fantastic! Thanks again for the great idea…
    Michelle

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 11, 2010 8:42 am

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  15. November 10, 2010 1:16 pm

    Oh. My. God. My Thanksgiving table is getting so full….. do I dare? I can’t even tell you how incredible this is….. ooohh maybe brunch with mom and dad before we really get underway with thanksgiving prep…. I just NEED to make this. I’ll also be coming back again because soup is one of my favorite things in the world and I do not make it enough.

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 11, 2010 8:43 am

      This would be a lovely dish for brunch. Technically, it’s a side dish, but it really can stand on its own (I know, because I’ve had leftovers for lunch!)

      • November 13, 2010 5:18 pm

        Oh definitely…. with a light salad of mixed greens next to it with a light vinaigrette. mmmmm

  16. November 10, 2010 1:20 pm

    Wow! Beautiful photos- this recipe sounds and looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it 🙂 Thanks for sharing, and for the Cabot recommendation. The farm families who own Cabot appreciate your support!
    ~Jacquelyn

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 10, 2010 2:34 pm

      No, thank you for producing such a consistently quality product. I love Cabot cheese and often mention it by name in my posts.

      • November 11, 2010 11:48 pm

        🙂 I’m looking forward to more great recipes- keep them coming!
        ~Jacquelyn

  17. November 10, 2010 4:41 pm

    I will definitely be trying this! It sounds amazing.

  18. November 10, 2010 6:57 pm

    That looks awesome, the mixture of Gruyère and Italian Sausages in Pumpkin will be heavenly

    Raymund
    http://angsarap.wordpress.com

  19. November 10, 2010 8:11 pm

    Woow! This meal looks so delicious!! Thanks a lot for this great recipe 🙂

  20. November 11, 2010 12:50 am

    This is the one!!!! Thank you so much SA. Its on our menu this weekend, and I’m really looking forward to it – I even have the pumpkin waiting!

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 11, 2010 8:45 am

      I bought extra pie pumpkins this season just for this recipe!

  21. November 11, 2010 3:47 am

    If I get really close to my screen I can almost smell the ingredients and the final soup. It’s going to be the center piece of our Thanksgiving. Thank you for posting it. 🙂

    • SoupAddict permalink
      November 11, 2010 8:46 am

      Can you imagine if the web had scratch-and-sniff for recipes? I’d have to leave my job because I would never get anything done….

      • November 11, 2010 9:43 am

        Wow, scratch-and-sniff blog! That would be a great idea :Q_

  22. November 11, 2010 1:05 pm

    Wow, that looks incredible! Can’t wait to get Dorie’s latest book so I can try some of the fabulous recipes as well!

  23. November 13, 2010 7:51 am

    I have my doubts about this one, but when it comes around on FFwD, I’ll give it a try. Cheese with pumpkin? Hmm. Your photos and post are, as usual, lovely, though.

  24. December 2, 2010 10:04 am

    Hi,

    Great blog. Good to have found it.

    When I moved away from England I missed sausages mre than I missed my family! I started making them myself here in Greece. before long I was supplying loads of people with them each week.

    I wrote a quick and easy guide so people could find out my recipies and how to make sausages for themselves. It is free at http://www.sausages-sausages.com

    Barry

Trackbacks

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